25th Wedding Anniversary
As I write this, it is what would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. It is not the 25th anniversary any bride would imagine or want. It is a painful reminder of what could have been and a painful memory of what was. On this day, 25 years ago, I could never have imagined how our marriage would turn out. I thought this man adored me and, in reality, he didn’t, or at least he got over it pretty quickly. Marriage takes teamwork. Attraction to each other brings many together to begin with, but that only takes you so far.
Honesty and Infidelity
On my 25th wedding anniversary, I see how he made me live a lie. He wasn’t honest with me as he lived a second life alongside the one we lived. It eventually took precedence. It makes me so sad to know all the moments I thought we were a real family, we weren’t. There was always someone else in our marriage, even if it was only the women in the porn he watched. I don’t care what the world says, porn is never good or ok. It eats at your thoughts, changes your views on love, sex and relationships and it trains your brain to look at other human beings as objects merely for your pleasure alone. It tears apart lives even before the porn no longer satisfies. And it will eventually not be enough. Refusing to look at porn helps keep your focus and attraction for your spouse.
Conditional Love Hurts
Your 25th wedding anniversary should be spent celebrating the deepening of your love as you remember how you have weathered the good and the bad together for a quarter-of-a-century. I have spent mine knowing that I was never loved. It’s hard to not take that personally. It’s hard to not let his lack of love shine as a reflection on who I am and see it as proof that I am someone who just can’t be loved.
But, then, I have to also look at how he “loved”. His “love” was very conditional. It depended on his mood, what he had done in that day, who was around, what was going on, etc. It’s the way so many in my life loved. In a book I’m listening to now, a character in it says, “Conditional love hurts” (The Betrayal, by Jerry B. Jenkins). It is so true. I think it would be better to not even have a relationship with someone than to be loved conditionally. Choose to love unconditionally everyday. Show the one you love that you meant and still mean the vows you spoke to each other at your wedding.
I remembered today how my husband made a mess of his life, through the snowball choices he kept making, and then, when they were all coming to a head, he left me to clean it up. He chose to die at one of the houses I was managing. There was money to be paid back and sweet, sad children who could not understand what happened. I didn’t know either, but I had to come up with answers. God led me through it all. I believe I was on autopilot for so, so much of those first couple years. I know that I only made it through the years that followed his death with Jesus in my life and those who truly loved me and cared about my well-being.
The other part of these memories is remembering how, when it came to my relationships with others, his death felt so much more like a divorce. Some of the people definitely took sides. Some people I thought were close to me and said they would be there for me, walked away after the first month and I never really heard from them again. Others thought that my husband’s memory was all that mattered to care about regardless of the pain that just kept mounting as more and more of his alternate life came to be known. I couldn’t compete with their memories, especially when the person they were grieving was not the same person I was grieving. Take care of and protect each other. Walk through life together and carry the other when they are hurting. Let them know their pain means something to you and you will help them work through it.
Since all of this happened, I have been asked if I hate marriage or have become cynical about it. The answer is emphatically NO! I love marriage and my heart rejoices with those in my life who have great marriages. I love that they are loved, enjoy time together and support each other. I’m not sure marriage is something that I will ever experience again, but, then, I guess I never really experienced it the first time. I pray for and hope those in marriages will grow closer and closer to each other and will look to the One Who created marriage and love to guide them through their marriages.
So, on what would have been my 25th wedding anniversary, I see what broken vows can do to a marriage and to the people involved. Your spouse is so precious. They are a gift from God to you. Cherish them in this way, honor each other and grow together in faith.
~ Joanna Lynn